As I begin to write this post, I haven’t yet arrived at my own answer, but I’m launching the question itself as a topic that most bloggers will run into at some time or another…
The Situation: A very nasty note, posted as an anonymous comment on this blog. It was directed in all its viciousness at me, full of factual errors, and with nasty twists on the bits of truth that were in it.
The Best Response: Hell if I know. Here’s my own so far. If the comment itself is going to be public, it needs a response—the question is whether to have it public at all. While I’m letting my emotions simmer down and arriving at an answer, I removed the comment itself. (After copying it for my own reference.) I also (for the time being, at least) changed the “comments” settings to disallow anonymous contributions, though I actually have mixed feelings about that. On the same day, I’d gotten a very heartfelt anonymous comment on a post about my alcoholism—and I don’t like to block that venue for sharing. I’m still thinking about that
I’m probably fortunate that there are (to my knowledge) only seven people in the world who truly hate me. That’s at least five more than I would wish for, as five of those people previously played important roles in my life, close friends and even family. Those five are painful still—but counselors and my A.A. Sponsor agree on the advisability of simply cutting ties (where possible) with people who are “toxic” to my life. Rebuilding of some bridges just shouldn’t be attempted, no matter how much it hurts my pride or vanity to have people out there thinking of me the way these people do. (My Sponsor reminds me that my job is simply to keep my own side of the street clean, and what other people think is none of my business. I’m a work-in-progress in this regard.)
In all honesty, I deserve to have a much longer list. I have been graced, however, with many other friends and family members who have accepted my poor attempts at Making Amends, who are willing to distinguish my Sober-Self from my Drinking-Self, and who have been gracious enough to forgive the heinous harms I’ve done to them when I was drinking—and to go forward with the process of re-building trust and re-building our relationships. (Interestingly enough, six of the seven “haters” were not harmed by my drinking as much as people who have forgiven, and four of them directly benefited from my drinking. Since I can’t claim to deserve forgiveness from anyone at all, it’s a testament to the great-heartedness of many people in my life that they have continued to love me despite myself.)
As to this particular incident of spewing toxicity… Certain bits of the commentary narrow down the possible authorship to just two people. Not that it does me any particular good to know that. (Nevertheless, I’ll keep those particular bits to myself in case they come in useful later. Have I watched too many crime-solving shows?)
Back to my Sponsor (bless her wisdom!) who reminds me not to let other people have “rent-free space in my head.” From a reverse angle, evidently I’m inadvertently renting some space in this writer’s head, and I have to pause and wonder why a person who is offended by my very existence would trouble herself to read my blog, which obviously riled HER up immensely! Believing what she believes of me, why would she cause herself the emotional turmoil of reading MY view of my life? It’s a mystery.
This isn’t the first time I’ve dealt with a nasty public comment. The last time was on the Facebook page of the Hawai’ian restaurant Keoni and I had run, just after we threw it away with our alcoholic relapse. The comment, written by a person whom I had grown up addressing as “Aunt” (yes, one of the seven), contained a number of unpleasant UNtruths, as well as some truths that we had already been very open about, and all of it couched in the nastiest of vitriol. Rather than dignify it with a response, and believing it didn’t have a place in that venue, I simply deleted it. She responded with a new comment, claiming that we “obviously had things to hide” since her previous comment had been deleted. So… I did respond, laying out “for anyone who doesn’t already know” all of our own faults and mistakes. I don’t know if that public accounting took the wind out of her sails, but it was the last we heard from her.
Perhaps this week’s writer is feeling the same–that I’m trying to make myself falsely “look good” here by hiding her comment and not addressing its contents. I think that anyone who reads here regularly will agree that I’ve pretty much let it ALL hang out–I haven’t tried to hide my alcoholism (or the disastrous results of it), or our crazy-low income, or even my personal flaws. (There are many! And I write about them…) I own my own faults, and I do my best to work on them—but I don’t think it can be said that I gloss them over. Although… You crazy readers here tend to respond positively to those moments of honesty, instead of reviling me for my past and current Badness. I’m probably “cheating” by baring all here, and depriving my detractors of the opportunity to drop in any information-bomb that would jolt all of you back to your senses in recognizing that I’m a worthless human being.
Sarcasm aside—I think, on reflection, that I will go ahead and respond publicly to the comment’s contents. (If you feel like skipping this, feel free; I won’t hold you hostage to a “character debate.”) I’m just choosing not to give anyone room to accuse me of hiding anything. (Looking back on the entire history of Things That Reflect Badly on Me, I can think of exactly two topics I wouldn’t initiate here. Both of them would involve someone else hurtfully, and even the 12-Step process of Making Amends forbids us from sharing things that harm others. I wouldn’t lie about these, but I won’t bring them up here.) That said, I’ll just dive in—the commentary, and my responses.
Your grasp on reality is fading with each passing day! Stop blaming others, especially your ex for your problems and shortcomings! You have no one but yourself to thank for the trainwreck that is your life!
I’m pretty sure I’ve repeatedly, openly, and publicly taken responsibility for my OWN current shortcomings and past disasters. And yes, I also express frustration at some choices made by my ex. I don’t think, though, that complaining about another person’s behavior constitutes blaming them for the general state of my own life. Nor do I consider my joyful family-life a “trainwreck.” The fact that anyone else characterizes it so does not change my own experience of it.
And stop using your kids to boost your pathetic fragile ego! They love you and their father so stop trying to make him the bad guy. You left him, remember? Wake up and smell the coffee girl before its too late!
1) I’m not “making him” anything. I relate his behavior, and how the kids are affected. If that makes him seem like a bad guy, maybe he should think about his choices. 2) YES, I left him. For a number of reasons, some of which re-surface in the behaviors that still frustrate me. As a matter of fact, I kept very quiet on my own opinions for several years, and a great deal of what I relate now is comprised of their experiences and moments of unhappiness. And I’ve said before and will say again—there’s no feeling of “triumph” in knowing that my kids are often unhappy in their other household. I am joyful that they are joyful with us, but there’s nothing but distress (and helplessness—also my own fault) when they are unhappy.
You blame your alcoholism for losing your job, your home and car, your restaurant business and ultimately the custody of your kids.
Yes—if by “blame my alcoholism,” you mean that I admit openly that my drinking has been disastrous in all those areas (and more—in the people I’ve hurt).
But now, all you do is “crow” about your sobriety and yet your circumstances have not improved at all!
If you judge a person’s worth only by income, then this statement would be true. I choose to judge my life by joy—and I have more of that than when I was rolling in money and drinking my soul away. Even in the writer’s own comments (the disastrous effects of my drinking) show how much better our circumstances are when we’re Sober. We’ve been blessed to regain full custody of one of our children and substantial time (though of course not “enough”) with the other two, we are secure with a home we love, a car that works, work that covers the bills (though admittedly not with any room for “extra” at the moment!), and (because of our work-choices, prioritizing family-time over money) a great deal more time with the kids than we had even before our relapse.
Oh, by the way, I will ”crow” about my sobriety, thank you. I had to stop and count, but that’s 21 months of joyful recovery, rebuilding of relationships, and exploring new things.
You are married to an old washed-up, would-be beach bum who’s old enough to be your father and who you drug home from re-hab after having known him only a few days.
Two pieces of this are true—he’s old enough to be my father, and he moved in with me just out of rehab. Four years later, I can say with certainty that neither of those facts has proved problematic. ”Washed-up would-be beach bum” is already on its way to becoming a Family Joke.
The fact he has a domestic violence record is really the last straw!
Ah, that. Here’s the full, unadulterated story, corroborated by both of our sons who were present at the time (and probably not interesting to anybody except those who want to use it against us, but here it is). First, it happened when he was drinking—which is why he has taken full responsibility, both legally and personally, for his part in it. It was December ’08, and his wife-at-the-time was blocking him from leaving the house. (Side note: that’s illegal in its own right.) She pulled him down by his sweatshirt, sat on his chest, and beat him with her fists. (Side note: also illegal) When she leaned close to his face, he bit her cheek, and used that opportunity to get out from under her and out of the house. He went to the nearby fairgrounds and hanged himself—the police found him there, put him handcuffed in an ambulance, and sent him to a Rehab hospital. (I checked myself in two weeks later—that, for better or worse, is where we met.)
His wife perjured herself on the stand, and admitted as much later to his Probation Officer, when the terms of his probation became inconvenient to her. I wish we had that confession on tape, but there’s nothing to be done about it now. He served 22 days in jail, and the incident went down as “domestic violence” on his record. Incidentally, that’s what ultimately cost him his job in Corrections. He still takes responsibility for it, because he was drinking, but things would be very different if she hadn’t gotten away with that perjury.
He can’t seem to hold down a job, so instead of helping provide for you and your children, he is just another mouth to feed!
Not that it’s anybody’s business (especially now that we’re not taking Food Stamps—we still qualify by a mile, but we’ve voluntarily discontinued again because we think we can manage without), but he’s contributing more income to the household than I am, and has been the greater contributor ever since the restaurant closed. I’m grateful we don’t feel the need between us to tally “who’s feeding whom,” because I’d be way behind on the count.
The next section I’m actually not going to reprint here, because it’s at least as unfair to my sister as it is nasty toward me. The gist of the accusation against me, though, is that I’m falsifying my relationship with her (in her birthday post a few days ago). Here’s the rest of the story—a piece of which I already alluded to early in the year (“Shining a Light into the Dark Places“), when I ridiculed myself for having confronted her with a trivial resentment of mine, before I had even Made Amends to her for the UN-trivial harm I had done to her.
The fact of the matter is that she and her husband, as the only family-members who lived near me during the worst of my drinking-days, bore the brunt of the “sick destructive downward spiral” (those quoted words are from the writer, and I acknowledge the truth of them) of my alcoholism. It was her husband who picked me up from my office when I was sent home for being drunk, she who left work to bail me out of jail for my DUI, she who had to show up at my house to find me when I went AWOL from work, both of them who were subjected to the absolutely ridiculous stories I put forward to try to cover my drinking… If there were any way I could un-do all those things… Oh Lord, I’d jump at the chance.
Let me add this as a testament to her character, which I didn’t include in the birthday post—not because I was trying to hide my own messiness, but because a post celebrating her didn’t seem an appropriate venue to muck up with my junk… (Perhaps that was an error in thinking, but for better or for worse, that was my thinking.) As a testament to her character: she, who was hurt by me more greviously than almost anyone else (or tied, perhaps, with my parents and my kids) is forgiving enough to be willing to rebuild our trust, rebuild our relationship, and build on all the good we DO have in our shared history. I don’t even have words for how grateful I am.
I don’t think drinking is the problem. I think you are just lazy and crazy, not wanting to take any responsibility for anything! You need psychiatric help and lots of it!
Well, there we go. I’ve exorcised the thing, and I can honestly say it won’t be renting space in my head.